Live updates


Brussels sprouts battery to light up Christmas tree

A battery made entirely of Brussels sprouts is being used to light an eight foot Christmas tree in central London.

Brussels sprout-powered battery on the Southbank Credit: PA Wire

The battery was created by a team of scientists and engineers from The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair and is being used to light up part of London's Southbank.

It was created using five power cells, each holding 200 sprouts, producing 63 volts from the 1,000 Brussels sprouts.

Pupils from City of London Academy switched on the lights early this morning Credit: Twitter/@bigbangfair

Queen celebrates National Theatre's 50th birthday

The National Theatre on London's Southbank has been delighting audiences and critics with the best of British talent for decades.

Over the last 50 years stars like Dame Judi Dench and Sir Michael Gambon have helped bring more than 800 productions to the stage. And today to celebrate its golden birthday, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the theatre for a backstage tour. Sangeeta Kandola reports.

Original architect: injecting life into Southbank was well overdue

Dennis Crompton, one of the original architects involved in the design of the Hayward Gallery, said:

“I remember my excitement when, in 1960, I was invited to join the team of architects at the LCC, who were working on the design of the proposed new concert hall and art gallery on the South Bank. The following year, when the project had its public launch, one member of the group expressed our ambition that there should be other facilities on the South Bank ‘so that it becomes alive ... rather than just a cultural centre’.

"Some seven or eight years later I again experienced excitement when the complex opened and I was able to wander from the riverside walk, over the walkways and terraces and through (and over!) the buildings – but there was something still missing.

"This feeling persisted for over 40 years until a warm Spring day – 22 April 2011 to be exact – when I revisited South Bank, found it teaming with people, children and adults, some relaxing on a newly-installed grassy lawn on the top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof and others dodging through the fountain on the terrace below.

"Activity everywhere. So many people just enjoying themselves.

“I felt that old excitement return. Looking at the proposals for the future I have the hope that this welcome, and much overdue, liveliness will be amplified and extended to other less clement times of the year and that perhaps the new buildings will themselves reflect the animation of the public presence.”

Plans will transform "sad and unwelcoming" part of Southbank

Architects plan to create a new glass foyer and pavilion. Credit: Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios.

The Southbank Centre says that the development will create "a world-class cultural centre for the 21st century" and address current problems with access and back-stage facilities.

Valerie Shawcross AM, London Assembly Member, Lambeth & Southwark, said:

“Southbank Centre’s proposals will transform a sad and unwelcoming part of the site into the centre piece of the cultural quarter which will offer the residents of Lambeth and Southwark many more opportunities to enjoy the arts”.

An artist's impression of how the revamped site might look from Hungerford Bridge. Credit: Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios.

Peter Clegg of Architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, said:

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with the Southbank Centre team to realise their vision of the Festival site at the heart of the city. It is a real honour to be working on one of the most significant, radical and challenging works of architecture from the 1960s.”


New glass atrium and pavilion for Southbank

The project includes:

  • A new Central Foyer - a glazed atrium that will cover the space between the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, and the Hayward Gallery.
  • A new Glass Pavilion - a venue "floating" on top of the Central Foyer, designed to hold a full orchestra of 150 and choir of up to 250 plus small audience.
  • A new 'liner' building along Waterloo Bridge, including a national literature centre and two restaurants.
  • New venues for gigs and dance performances in the undercrofts - the spaces underneath the complex.
  • general refurbishment work
  • improved disabled access

700 more trains each week

Blackfriars station

There will now be 700 extra trains every week at Blackfriars station, which has been undergoing a massive refurbishment programme for the last four years and will be complete by the end of this year.

Two new platforms will serve both north and southbound trains as part of the completion of engineering work on the central London section of the Thameslink route.

Keith Jipps from First Capital Connect says: "We'll have 40% more trains serving the station once we reopen at night and weekends. This and the new south station entrance, suddenly makes Blackfriars a great destination for art lovers and theatregoers."

Load more updates